Bilingual Education Policy and Legislation

The United States is home to hundreds of nationalities. They say there is no one American because the Nation of the United States is composed of American citizens of different roots, all protected by the U.S. Constitution and by its laws and policies.

People who have migrated to the US may have struggles in many things, including speaking the language. Thousands of people come to the US every year hoping to have a different life from that which they left behind. Some may be citizens of the United States already, and some may be staying on a tourist or work visa. But as they are within the U.S. territory and therefore under the protection and shelter of the US government, the latter must be able to protect them by, among others, allowing them to have mobility within the country by being able to communicate the language.

What policies in the U.S. help non-English speakers is the absence of a policy that will make English their official language. The English-Only or the Official English Movement is a political movement seeking to have the English language as the official language in the United States. In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt, the then U.S. President wrote, "We have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house."

What the late President Roosevelt wrote is a deep and futuristic realization that if the country does not choose to make English the official language, the country would look like a boarding house of people from different places, not being able to understand each other as they are bound to use their native language and to choose to use the same despite the knowledge on English.

The advocates of the English-Only Movement contend that the government of the United States must accept that the country has been a place where people from around the world would want to settle in. It is believed to be the promise land of milk and honey. The land of opportunities and abundance for millions of Chinese nationals, Spanish nationals, Japanese nationals, German nationals, Australian nationals, Filipino nationals, British nationals, Russian nationals, and many more. But as the government that oversees the country as a whole and sees the entire picture of a population of different colors and tongues, it must always gear towards uniting its nation.

A group of advocates of the English-Only Movement called ProEnglish believes that "Official English, in pluralistic nation such as ours, the function of government should be to foster and support the similarities that unite us, rather than institutionalize the differences that divide us."

This is indeed a very valid point. If the government does not staple its people together to be one effective unit that will be strong enough to battle against the evil of being a divided nation, it might end up governing a nation that does not have a sense of patriotism, nationality and does not see the United States as a home but merely a temporary setting place.

When a person goes to the Bronx, he will see Latin Americans seemingly living without regard to the fact that they are in the United States already. It is like a little Mexico out there. When one goes to China Town, he will see people with zero know-how in speaking English. Their worlds are confined in those places where they can comfortably speak and never go out to be with other people and establish a bond.

What policies in the U.S. help non-English speakers? Not making English the official language is enough help because non-English speakers will not be forced to live in a country where the official language is the one they can not speak. Pressure to learn is lifted. But is this really helping the nation? Is the U.S. government allowing and even encouraging division by not imposing to anyone the need to learn the language and by not asserting that the U.S. is not a land of multiple nationalities but of Americans, with English being the official language?

  1. English Language Fluency Act